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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Wed 19 Sep 2012 - 0:31

Fourteenth Day of Proceedings - Wednesday, November 14, 1888




There was a very limited attendance when the business of the Commission was resumed this morning. Sir Charles Russell, who left soon after the Court opened yesterday, and did not again put in an appearance, was early in his seat, the Attorney-General and Sir Henry James following at brief intervals. The Judges were late again today, and the proceedings did not commence till about five-and-twenty to eleven.

The counsel for the Times are the Attorney-General (Sir Richard Webster), Sir Henry James, Q.C., Mr. W. Murphy, Q.C., and Mr. W. Graham, of the English Bar, with Mr. J. Atkinson, Q.C., and Mr. Ronan, of the Irish Bar. The counsel for the Irish Members are Sir Charles Russell, Q.C., Mr. Asquith, Mr. R.T. Reid, Q.C., Mr. F. Lockwood, Q.C., Mr. Lionel Hart, Mr. Arthur Russell, Mr. Arthur O'Connor, and Mr. Harrington. Mr. P.A. Chance is represented by Mr. Hammond, solicitor, and Mr. Biggar, M.P., and Mr. Michael Davitt, appear personally.


Edward Flanagan entered the box again, and Mr. Atkinson asked permission to put a few more questions to him, explaining that he omitted to do so last night.
The President assented. "But," he added, "I was going to say, so far as his evidence went last night, we didn't think it pertinent to the matters in hand."
Flanagan then informed the Court that he was personally known to several persons engaged in Moonlighting in County Galway, and several of these were members of the Land League.


Mr. Reid severely cross-examined Flanagan. He got from him the admission that he knew that Meeney, who collected money from him in America, was associated with O'Donovan Rossa, and the denial that he knew the latter was an open advocate of the use of dynamite. The money he gave Meeney was, in 1879, for the relief of the distressed in Ireland, and he should very much have objected had he known it was to be used for dynamite purposes. He emphatically denied that he had been a member of any Fenian Society, though he was a member of the Hibernian Society in America. Mr. Reid re-directed his questions to the moonlighting outrages, and the witness told him that he thought of emigrating, so that he should not appear against his "mates," but was arrested on board the vessel, and prevented from leaving the country. Thus he became mixed up in the present case.


Mr. Reid sat down, and the witness was about to leave the box, when Mr. Davitt rose. He was anxious to obtain information as to the composition of the meeting Flanagan alleges to have been held in Pittsburg for the purpose of raising funds to purchase arms for the West of Clare. Flanagan declared that he could not tell whether the meeting was public or private, or whether it was called by the Hibernian Society or not, though it was, he said, just possible, it might have been called by the latter society. Mr. Davitt kept up a severe fire of cross-examination, severely demanding whether the witness was really a member of the Hibernian Society. Flanagan adhered to the statement that he was, but could not say to what branch he belonged, or where his card of membership was.


Although intimate with Meeney, he declared that he did not know he was dead. As to the meeting he alleges he attended with Rossa, Ford, and Meeney in New York, Mr. Davitt examined the witness with the view of ascertaining whether Flanagan really was acquainted with these gentlemen.
Asking whether he could identify Ford by a photo, Mr. Davitt observed, "You have heard that photographs don't lie?" "Oh, yes," was the response; "but I don't think I could identify Ford by a photo, though I might if I saw him in the street."
Flanagan declared further that the revolvers he received from Meeney were given him in the presence of Sullivan, a publican in New York, in whose house the meeting he had spoken to attending was held.


Michael Horty, a tall, pale man, who slowly climbed into the box by the aid of sticks, followed Flanagan. Horty lives in Shenaglish, in the county Galway, where in the latter part of 1881, a branch of the Land League was started, he being one of the committee, and Dr. Geoghegan secretary. The latter left the district just about the time Mr. Forster's Act came in force. "I don't know actually where he went," said the witness, "but I heard he'd gone to Dublin to finish his studies."
Mr. Murphy placed a great deal of emphasis on the word "studies," and so repeatedly asked the witness what Geoghegan really left the neighbourhood for, that Mr. Davitt observed, in a stage whisper, "This is rich."
Horty's face, all this time, had been gradually growing more pallid, and presently Mr. Murphy remarked that it would be desirable that Horty should sit down, as he had been shot in the thigh, and still suffered from the wound. Horty was afforded a seat, and went on to describe the working of the Committee of the League during the absence of Dr. Geoghegan, the sole object of their gatherings being "to secure reduction in rents, and to prevail upon the people to live together in unity and concord." He spoke to hearing of severe people being denounced and boycotted, and to seeing notices upon the parish chapel gate "boycotting some meadows."
"Were you a Fenian?" asked Mr. Murphy.
"Well, sure, I believe I was," haltingly replied the witness, "just for a little while, perhaps about four months. I don't think any of the members of the Land League were Fenians, because they were all oldish men."


An attack was made by the Moonlighters on his house in October, 1887. Describing it, Horty observed, "I had done nothing in the world to call for a visit from them. Flanagan was in the house at the time of the visit, and so was my mother."
"What did the Moonlighters do?" asked Sir C. Russell.
"I suppose they thought I was indoors, and would fire at them, and that they would then come in and take my gun. But I happened to be out, and they fired through the back door before they came in."
Horty could not say whether Flanagan had anything to do with the attack, for "he acted in the capacity of friend to him." Horty, as almost every other witness of his class that has been called, declared that rents were too high for the tenants to pay, and it was absolutely imperative - a matter of life and death in some cases - that reductions should be made. He had the same story to tell of the strong feeling in his district against persons who take farms from which others have been evicted. "And they never were taken in my district," he added with emphasis.


"Now, I asked you," said Sir Charles, impressively, "Has the League instigated outrages in your district? No matter what outside and secret societies have done."
Horty's answer was very emphatic. Leaning back in the box he exclaimed, "Certainly not."
Horty admitted he was a member of the League when a boycotting notice was placed on a Mr. Latty's door. He declared, however, that it was not posted up by any member of the Land League, but rather by a person actuated by personal spite.


"How long were you a Fenian?" persuasively asked Sir Charles. - About four months.
And when did you leave? - "Shure, about four months after I joined," replied the witness, amid laughter.
Mr. Davitt rose. His cross-examination was very brief. "I was a Fenian and a Land Leaguer," said the witness, "and yet I was attacked by Moonlighters."
But the Attorney-General came to the rescue of his witness. "Why were you attacked?" he asked. "Because I was intimate with Flanagan, was the reply. "Yes, I knew Sheehan," he went on. "He took a farm, the previous holder of which "skedaddled" to America, being four or five years in arrears with his rent. Sheehan after that was boycotted. Two of the members of the Land League (added the witness) were sent to Tullamore Jail for six months for complicity in the attack upon my house."
Sir Charles Russell, however, elicited from the witness that the branch of the League to which these men belonged was suppressed subsequently by the central body in Dublin.


Another sergeant of the R.I.C. entered the box. Sergeant Creagh had very little to tell. He was the man who arrested one of these convicted Leaguers, and afterwards searched his house, finding there a card of membership of the Michael Davitt Branch.
Both Sir Charles Russell and Mr. Lockwood endeavoured to ascertain whether there were really any crimes committed in the sergeant's district before 1879, but Creagh denied that he recollected any case prior to that date.
Mr. Michael Davitt obtained from Creagh a concise description of the chief duty of the men of the R.I.C. He had never, he believed, heard of the police investigating any case of burglary, or wife beating, or theft; all they did was to institute inquiries into cases arising out of the land dispute.


The Attorney-General here made a digression. He returned to the case of the man Hughes, the post-master at Ardraghan, who was severely boycotted in 1884 and 1886. Sergeant Charlton, of the R.I.C., entered the box, and produced several boycotting notices placed on Hughes's property. Here is one: -

"Will you allow that hypocrite, that two-faced scoundrel Hughes, to land grab in your midst? Will the teachings of the past be set at defiance by that vile wretch, who tries to trample on the poor and homeless? Boycott him if he persists in this vile work. Let him accept this as final."

In one of the other notices the public was called upon to boycott Hughes for serving "that vile worm, that outcast of society," a certain emergency man; and another one informed Hughes that unless he accepted the gentle hint it contained, "stronger measures" would have to be resorted to.
Charlton told Sir Charles Russell that he had asked the parish priest, Father Considine, to interfere on behalf of Hughes, and another shopkeeper named Kelly to try and get the boycotting withdrawn, but he refused. And to Mr. Davitt the witness declared that he had never heard of the manufacture and circulation of bogus boycotting notices by newspaper correspondents in Ireland.


James Ford, who was in the employ of Mr. Latty, described the attitude of the people towards his employer, observing that so strong was the feeling against him, that when he had to cut grass he always took his gun with him for self-protection. This ill-feeling increased by degrees, until in 1881 Mr. Latty's house was fired into, several shots penetrating into the drawing-room. In the month of May following, hearing knocks at his door, he opened it, and a rifle was thrust into his face. He attempted to shut the door, but failed, and the rifle was fired, wounding him slightly in the abdomen. Ford rushed into the house, seized his rifle, and went outside, firing at the retreating figure of a man. Next day a man named Dogherty, who had been wounded in the shoulders, was arrested, and it was found that he had received the bullets from Ford's rifle.


Richard Donoughue was next called. He was a little man, who, on entering the box, ran from corner to corner, uncertain as to where to stand. He readily enough informed the Court that he was an Irishman. He spoke in a monotonous, rapid, and mumbling tone. He was a herd near Portumna. He told how "the people hollered, and bawled, and shouted at him, "how when he went out he was afraid he wouldn't get home again "right," and how, returning from Portumna Fair, he was knocked down, and when he got up, "didn't know whether he was alive or dead." Further than that, he asserted that a member of the committee of the local branch of the Land League prevailed upon him to attend a meeting of the League, where he was called upon to give up his work. He "shouted as loud as he could" that he wouldn't "give up, and then he was tumbled about a few times. Then he heard a "voice" say he was a "wretched miserable creature."
All this was delivered in a rapid undertone, Mr. Ronan leading the examination. Suddenly Mr. Reid rose. He had an objection to take. Mr. Ronan had asked if after the meeting he met a strange woman in the village, and Mr. Reid objected to anything that this lady said being repeated.
"You'll stop at the strange woman, then, Mr. Ronan," observed the President, amidst laughter.
Once more Donoughue related his experiences, declaring that he made himself secure night after night after the Land League meeting, and ultimately gave up his situation.
"When you refused to resign at the meeting were you," asked Sir Charles Russell, "ill-used by the crowd?" - "Well, Sorr," answered the witness, "I received no blow, but they tumbled me over and over."


"Tell me," said Mr. Davitt, "how long have you been a herd?" - "For twenty-five years."
"And did you know a large number of herds?" - "Divil a few I knew, Sorr."
Did you belong to any association of herds? - No, Sir.
Did you never hear of such an association? - "Ah, begorra, sorr, I'm sure I never heard of an association of that kind in any district. The witness added that he was 50 years old, and remembered the famine of 1846-7-8.
"Then," asked Mr. Davitt, "do you remember a secret organisation called the "Steel Boys?" - I never knew any "Steel Boys," yer honour.
Did Mr. Lewis, your employer, give you 5 pounds to come over here? - Yes.
Did he buy you that coat? - Yes.
Did he give you anything else? - Yes; these trousers, replied witness, amid loud laughter, displaying a pair of new corduroy nether garments.


Segeant Murphy, of the R.I.C., described the meeting at which Donoghue says he was "tumbled over and over," and produced reports of speeches delivered there; but he admitted to Sir Charles Russell and Mr. Harrington that he never took a single note during the meeting, and wrote his report about half an hour after the meeting. He added, in response to Sir Charles Russell, that a Tenants' Protection Society was formed in the district in 1886, but he declared he did not know it was started because the members of the local branch of the National League considered they had not been supported by the central body. Again adverting to his notes of the meeting, he said he produced them at the trial of "Blunt v. Byrne."


Thomas Lunan was the next witness. He is a process-server in Loughrea, and the successor to the man Finlay, known as "Balaclava," who was shot. He is a tall, military-looking, and quietly-spoken man. He spoke to being boycotted after giving evidence at the local sessions with reference to certain processes, and to attending a meeting of the Land League subsequently, at which Father Coen was present. The meeting took place at the League-room in the house of a person called Egan, according to Lunan, and he was made to swear that he would serve no more processes and do no more work for the landlords. As he went out of the room Father Coen stopped him, and told him that "anything that was done in that house could not be done outside, as it was the very bone and sinew of the parish." However, Lunan was not true to his pledge, and again became a summons-server, with the result that the police protection, which had been taken off, has been renewed, the boycotting has been redoubled and lasts to the present time, and he was fired at in June of this year. This was at a time when he had been serving processes for Mr. Lewis and Lord Clanricarde, who "seemed to be unpopular" in the neighbourhood, against evicted persons who had returned to their holdings.


The Court was just about to adjourn for luncheon, when the Attorney-General rose. He looked very serious, and spoke impressively. "I have been asked my Lords," he said, "to apply for certificates under the Act, with reference to the two men Manion and Flaherty, who gave evidence yesterday. Your Lordships are aware that to these men it is a matter of considerable importance that they should know they are entitled to these certificates at the present time, and I would submit there is no ground, such as their withholding anything, why they should not have them."
Sir Charles Russell, however, interposed, "I have nothing to say against the application," said he; "but I must say that I think the application premature. You don't judge now whether they have disclosed everything or not."
"Yes, I think that quite reasonable," replied the President. "Of course the same question will arise with regard to other witnesses. It must stand over, I think, for the present."
The Commission then adjourned for luncheon.


When the Court resumed a discussion arose. Sir Richard Webster having intimated that he proposed to curtail the evidence with regard to Galway, by handing in a list of the crimes charged to the Land League, and which had not been dealt with, Sir Charles Russell rose and objected to this course being taken. He expressed his opinion that in all the mass of evidence which had already been brought forward with regard to county Galway, only a very small portion went to prove connection between the outrages and the persons charged with being incriminated with them. He, therefore, did not feel disposed, unless their Lordships should express a contrary opinion, to admit of wholesale evidence to be paraded in that way as a fixed amount of crime attributable to those persons.
The President at once dealt with the matter. It occurred to him, he said, that Sir Charles Russell was acting in a manner which recommended itself exceedingly to their Lordships, when, in an earlier stage of the proceedings, he abstained from taking any objection to that list. If, however, the objections to the admission of that list, which he now raised, were sustained, the effect would be to extend that inquiry to a period which it was dreadful to contemplate. It might, in fact, last for any number of years. He therefore hoped it would be found practicable to take evidence of that kind in a general way. "Very well, my Lord," replied Sir Charles, without rising, "of course I've no more to say."


James Murphy, a district inspector in the R.I.C., stationed at Woodford, where he has been since August, 1886, described the eviction of Saunders, at "Saunders' Fort" - an appellation the house (which was one of Lord Clanricarde's), received owing to the fact that it was very securely fortified. Of course, very determined opposition was placed in the way of the sheriff's officers, who attempted to effect an entrance by removing the slates off the roof, but were assailed with water. The siege lasted some days, and on the last day lime and water were thrown out upon the police, a swarm of bees was let out through the windows, and Murphy himself was pushed off the roof with long sticks.
The President interposed here, and expressed the opinion that the details were not necessary.
The Attorney-General responded that he was giving these particulars as "Saunders' Fort" was supposed to be a model of the way in which the mandates of the gentlemen who spoke at meetings were carried out.


However, the interposition had the desired effect, and "Saunders' Fort" was left with the assertion by the witness that he knew Land League meetings were held every Sunday at the "Fort." Murphy went on to describe the result of boycotting in the district, observing that he himself had suffered very considerably; in fact, he could not get bread for his children, some of whom cried for food, he not being able to obtain any till nightfall, because the tradesmen refused to give it to him. Milk was brought to him late at night by his men, who conveyed it in their despatch bottles.


Then followed a reference to a series of outrages which occurred in 1886 and 1887. Some of them were of a comparatively small nature, such as throwing down hay-cocks and destroying portions of crops, which Murphy distinctly alleged to be due to the refusal on the part of the owners to join the National League, while in another case the cause of the destruction of the windows of a house was said to be that the daughter of the occupier worked one day for a boycotted person. The more serious offences including the cutting off of the mane and tail of the horses of a certain tenant whose son "flushed" - to use the expression of the witness - or acted as besters of the "cover" for Sir H. Burke; outrages upon several cattle because their owner had attended the wake of his uncle, who was a boycotted person; and the firing of a revolver through a man's window because the owner of the house was "suspected to have paid his rent."


The Attorney-General here mentioned that he should next examine the witness as to a meeting held at Woodford on the 17th of October, 1886, at which Mr. John Dillon, Mr. W. O'Brien, and Mr. Matt Harris were present. Sir Charles Russell at once interrupted. He said that the meeting was held for the purpose of inaugurating the "Plan of Campaign." He wished to know what part of the allegations against certain persons in that case related to the "Plan of Campaign." Sir Richard Webster said he had justified than when he raised an objection before.
"I did justify it at the time," interrupted Sir Richard. "Indeed, you did not," declared Sir Charles.
Sir Richard then asserted that the "Plan" was specifically referred to in "Parnellism and Crime." He could, in fact, mention one case in which it was stated that the "Plan of Campaign" was hatched at the Chicago Convention"; and he knew there were many other instances in which the "Plan" was alluded. - Sir Charles Russell declared that, until it was proved to the contrary, he should assert that there was no reference to the "Plan of Campaign." - The President advised the Attorney-General to collect passages before proceeding with that part of the case.


Sir Charles Russell then addressed himself to Murphy, who said that evictions were principally the cause of disturbances.


The witness had never seen Lord Clanricarde, had never heard whether he had put in an appearance on his estate, or whether he ever subscribed a penny towards any charity, or towards the alleviation of the distress amongst his people. Sir Charles Russell took Murphy back to the catalogue of crime he had detailed, and the witness declared outright that he put all the cases down to agrarian cases.
Sir Charles dealt with Murphy persuasively. He alluded to an outrage on Pat Mitchell's property. "I suppose you said, "Well, Pat," to Pat Mitchell?" asked the learned counsel.
"Well, it might have been that I did."
"And did you then ask him who committed the outrage?" - "Perhaps I did."
"And did he then say, "Begorra, I don't know?" - "Well, it might be."
"Tell me, now," asked Sir Charles, still more persuasively, "how did you get at the motive in the outrage upon Pat Mitchell?" - I arrived at that myself on the reports of the sergeants of the district, and from my own personal inquiries, though I knew Mitchell was very reticent."
Sir Charles Russell went on to deal with each of the cases reported by Murphy, and in the great majority Murphy admitted that he had not arrived at the motive by statements made by the persons outraged.


Then Sir Charles came to a more momentous question. "I want you to consider before you answer this," he said. "Has there been in your district one case in which persons have been intimidated for not joining the National League?" - Murphy considered the question a few seconds, and then emphatically replied in the negative.
A few questions from Mr. Davitt, whom the witness admitted he had never heard speak at a public meeting, and Murphy was then re-examined by Sir Henry James. He informed that gentleman that the persons outraged were not in the habit of committing outrages upon one another; that during 1886 and 1887 he had numerous complaints that people were hampered in their commercial and social relations by the National League; and that persons outraged were reticent, because they were apprehensive of the result of communicating any intelligence to the police.
The President here intimated that the Commission would not be able to sit tomorrow, and the Court adjourned.


Mrs. Hannah Connell and her son James left Miltown Malbay by the mid-day train, today, for London, to give evidence before the Commission relative to boycotting in the Miltown Malbay district. They are under police escort.


Father Egan had addressed a letter to the Freeman's Journal with reference to the evidence of Mrs. Blake, given before the Parnell Commission on Friday. "Permit me to say," he writes, "Mrs. Blake's evidence is cruelly unjust to me. The evidence given at the inquest proves her memory to be at fault in another way. When the proper time comes this may be shown. At present I will say no more than that I understand from Mrs. Blake and her sister that they gave me credit for showing them every attention to be expected from me as a priest and a gentleman."


The London Correspondent of the Freeman's Journal says: - "The Times shows no disposition to make its evidence relevant. Unionists boast that they can influence public opinion in England by means of the Times - massing together the crimes of a decade, and implying that the Irish Party are responsible. A subsidiary object of the Times is to exhaust the resources of the supporters of the Irish Party. It is a question whether the Irish Party should assist in playing this game. They would be supported by intelligent public opinion if they were to withdraw their counsel until such evidence is given as implicates Members of Parliament."

Source: The Echo, Wednesday November 14, 1888, pp. 2-3

Karen Trenouth
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